Wednesday, January 05, 2005
The Jocose Cheese
On a lighter note: the cheese of ill repute!
Well at least I had a good laugh grocery shopping today and began brooding about meaning and culture. Trying to gain market share thoughtlessly and on the cheap must be an absolute nightmare in this age of globalization.
Imagine yourself a businessperson running a company without the help of a competent team of multi-disciplinarians. You have what you think is a fabulous product. Somehow you've come up with a snazzy name for it, and a marvelous packaging to boot and then you try to break into another country's markets.
The product you sell is tasty enough, you think. Countless people in different countries eat it. The name is just marvelous as far as you're concerned and other folk seem to like it. In short, everything suggests that you have the product differentiation angle covered.
But nothing happens. You must begin to wonder why, no?
It must be "them" people. They are nothing like "us!" What do they know about cheese, anyways? This surely must explain everything. Either that or you assume that they just haven't heard of what you have to offer and so you feel the need for more advertising and an aggressive public relations campaign to overcome their ignorance.
Now imagine yourself a typical Iranian family at the breakfast table with some Kiri à la crème, the laughing cow cheese. There is nothing really wrong with the cheese, of course, except everything.
For one, Kiri in Farsi is the adjectival form of the lewdest term there is for the penis. Curiously, in the vernacular the adjective is used for anything deemed inordinately worthless.
And then, the Arabic term for "so white - beythan … leqhayat," بیضآ ء لغآ ية
(as in a cheese so white and so delicious) given the differences in the sound of the same letters in Arabic and Farsi (coupled with that unfortunate name) seamlessly evoke both the scrotum and testicles.
Good luck being Iranian and having a family moment at the breakfast table! You can get other products which are either superior in quality or offer comparable rewards without all the (needless) hassles.
So, my dear gentle readers feel free to draw your own political inferences here.